Incident in a Ghostland swiftly shows cracks within its porcelain psychological shell. Well, that was frustrating. Y'know when you sit down, watch a film, become absorbed by the world it lures you into, only to ascertain that precious time has been wasted for such a convoluted story that really didn't need to be. Yeah, that. Well I've got the perfect example here! A family inherit a creaky house, but whilst moving in are confronted by a gang of murderers which alters the lives of the daughters forever.
Yet again, another film commencing with a Lovecraft quote, mistaking labyrinthine horror for surrealism. Ghostland, for all its slashing wholesomeness, is a horror of two halves. The dreadful reality-bending psychologically draining first half that was abhorrently misdirected by Laugier, rushed with such extremities and thematically empty. And of course the second half, a taut home invasion slasher that stylistically ramps up tension by intently focusing on the mental deterioration of its antagonists (whom I have named "Man Child" and "Weird Mom"), whilst maintaining the desperation for escape.
The issue that segregates these two halves? A certain plot reveal that is absolutely so unnecessary, that it yields no literary substance whatsoever. In fact, its purpose is just to convolute a plot that needs no convolution. The route Laugier chooses doesn't explore the human psyche, nor does it embellish imagination. Just a carbon copy of an infamous plot detail found in an incredibly popular 90s thriller (I shan't name it...), for the sake of extending the film's runtime. If Laugier removed this infuriating corkscrew, the narrative would've be more engaging without a doubt. Urgh.
It's a dire shame considering the decent performances, exquisite production design and gloriously enticing second half that had me shouting "Flee my daughters! Devour his neck!!". The absence of backstory for the murderous Weird Mom and the juvenile doll-fondling Man Child did leave a gaping hole narratively speaking, however the plot is told through Beth's perspective so made sense to maintain a minuscule amount of mysticism. There were a handful of jump scares that were obnoxiously predictable and piercingly loud, to which its inclusion was solely to forcibly quantify its horror tropes. Yet the uneasy strange behaviour of its murderers, most notably the inhaling of certain private areas found on dolls and the tantalising oddities that surround the silent but deadly Weird Mom, actually created enough tension and dread to momentarily captivate.
However the unfortunate first half believing to be an ingenious use of escapism, tainted the film's entirety by rendering it obsolete. If only Laugier chose the simplistic path, we may have had ourselves a decent straightforward slasher. Shame.